What do you want me to say ? There is life after failure. Filip Maertens @fmaertens
It sucks !Seriously. It does. So let’s not glorify things here.
Project Fail! Company Fail!Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
February Acquired 27% of the shares of the company and started fundraising 2008 Got real cool VOIP tech and traction, e.g. AT&T EUR 250k debt trouble came with it May Raised EUR 500k with one angel investor 2008 Bought runway Bought too little November 3 revenue streams in excess of EUR 1,5M - 2 proﬁtable, 1 launching 2008 Reduced from 11 revenue streams Still had 2 too many January Got EUR 12M in two acquisition oﬀers 2009 Dude ! Seriously ? The offer is peanuts. Go ﬁsh !Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
WTF happened here ? > 1,5M revenue, 12M M&A, good traction … and 20k short November May 2008 2009 Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
#1 Do one thing. And be awesome in it ! Diversiﬁcation is high-level management bullsh*t. Focus ﬁrst ! Growing one business is hard. Two is exponentially harder. I had 3 business units. 2 too many.Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
#2 Buy enough runway. Don’t underfund. Running out of cash before market-ﬁt is textbook recipe for failure. Time your fundraising. Beggars can’t be choosers. Pivot or die. Always buﬀer. Don’t settle for anything less ! I required EUR 1,7M. Not EUR 500k.Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
#3 Only roll with the A-Team Hire Fast. Fire Fast. Pick investors that understand your business. Be intolerant for incompetence. Be brutal to ego’s. Be a lean team. Don’t get me started…Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
#4 Release when you feel conﬁdent. Done is better than perfect. Stay lean until growth, then accelerate. Don’t let anyone push to release too soon. Release stable versions. Released Zalloo too soon. Overhead and headaches.Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
#5 Never give up ! The founding team must show great passion and resilience. Push through negativity. Fight as if you’re on death ground. Original founding team was tired and gave up.Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
On 27.05.2009 I’ve learnt an important lesson: Lack of cash was never the problem. Lack of passion of the original Founders was. … and I didn’t see that one coming.
“ In the end everything will be OKIf it’s not OK, you’re at the end yet. ”
The fallout… You become a toxic product to many. You failed = loser. Suck it up and deal with it. Rebound fast. Don’t isolate. Be a contrarian. Hack the Belgian mentality. Regain conﬁdence. Do whatever it is you have to do. But do it fast.Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
On failure… It made me a more determined and seasoned entrepreneur. It made me fearless and gave me perspective. It made me tougher. Failure is a side eﬀect of innovation. … yet, avoid if possible. You’re in Belgium: Petit pays. Petit esprit. Petit zizi.Intro Background Uh oh Lessons learned In recovery
Don’t let your fear of failure strip you from your passion Go big ! Be fearless ! Be passionate !
And me, 28 months later ? Financed VOIP Depot, proﬁtable and growing Trade-sold my niche cyber-security companyFounded and ﬁnanced my mobile start-up and awaited app Jini Happy to be free of fear and working on what I love ! Filip Maertens @fmaertens